UPDATE 8:00 am: The usual. Southern Israeli men, women, and children struck by multiple Palestinian terrorist Qassam rockets over the last 24 hours. In response the IDF did nothing on the ground, but the IAF bombed a building in Gaza in the middle of the night. The usual.
Judging from the following comments, the Israeli government must have finally done something right yesterday:
“This is a blow to democracy, which harms Israel’s image and will be used as a way to criticize the state” MK Amir Peretz (Labor).
“The coalition is leading us to a fascist regime. They are trying to silence opponents and defy every democratic value” MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima).
“This is a shameful moment in the history of Israeli democracy” The New Israel Fund.
“The current government is leading an assault on the foundations of democracy” Hagai El-Ad, Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
“The government action has degraded the international position of Israel” Shirit Michaeli, B’Tselem.
“Israeli democracy has been surrendered to right-wing extremists and is in a state of bankruptcy” Yariv Oppenheimer, Peace Now.
What exactly did the Israeli government do that was so “undemocratic, fascist, shameful, degrading, and extremist”? It took long overdue action to restrict the foreign funding of NGOs operating in Israel that work to delegitimize Israel, and eliminate the tax exempt status of these NGOs in Israel.
Specifically, the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs (by a vote of 11-5) approved two bills on Sunday: the first limits donations from foreign governments and other bodies to these NGOs to 20,000 shekels ($5500) per year; the second imposes a 45% tax on these NGOs. These bills will now go to the full Knesset where they are expected to pass handily.
These laws address a problem that is so massive in scale as to defy the imagination.
One small example will suffice. Earlier this year, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal discovered that the Dutch government had been using at least 10 million Euros of Dutch taxpayer money per year to fund NGOs actively promoting BDS activities against Israel. These NGOs included BADIL, Coalition of Women for Peace, Defense for Children International–Palestine Section, Holy Land Trust, Sabeel, Stop the Wall, and the Ma’an Development Center.
Think about that: 10 million Dutch Euros pouring into organizations in Israel committed to Israel’s delegitimization.
As a result, the Dutch Foreign Ministry took the courageous step of implementing “sweeping reforms” to prevent the transfer of government money to so-called Dutch “humanitarian aid organizations” that fund anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities and non-government organizations (NGOs) that deny Israel’s right to exist.
But this courageous action was confined only to The Netherlands.
One of the extraordinary facets of this discussion over the last two months has been the attempt of the United States and European Union to interfere in the Israeli democratic process and squash consideration of the law. As MK Limor Livnat pointed out: “It’s not enough that the British and the EU send money to NGOs and use them to intervene in Israel’s affairs – now they want to be involved in our legislation? I don’t think that should influence us. It’s unacceptable that foreign countries will intervene in what happens here, a state that is fighting for its existence.”
Your humble servant applauds the Israeli government for acting decisively to protect Israeli human rights and hopes that the new laws will be voted on by the full Knesset quickly and enacted promptly.